Ecuador // The northern sierra //

Haciendas and country hotels around Otavalo

There are several fine haciendas in the Otavalo region, originally built to oversee local obrajes, which generally cost more than accommodation in town, but are well worth it for their character, colonial architecture and beautiful grounds. Anything newer country hotels lack in historical charm, they often make up for in comfort and location. Most places listed offer horseriding or hiking expeditions.

As well as those listed below, there are many other good upmarket places to stay around Otavalo, in the nearby weaving village of Peguche, around Cotacachi and near the Lagunas de Mojanda, all close enough for you to get an early start at the Saturday market.

Ali Shungu Mountaintop Lodge

5km west of Otavalo near the community of Yambiro t 06/2920750, w http://www.alishungumountaintoplodge.com. The ever-changing play of light and shade across Imbabura and Lago San Pablo is experienced nowhere better than at this peaceful lodge, perched on a hilltop and backed by the forests of its own 40-acre private reserve. The four cosy and fully equipped guesthouses, each self-contained with wood-burning stove, kitchenette and garden, have huge windows which make the most of the extraordinary views. Price includes breakfast and dinner, two hours horseriding, wi-fi access, unlimited bottled water, tea and coffee; there’s also no check-out time. A range of activities is offered, including talks by a local yachac (healer) on the rich archeological history of the reserve and region. over $121

Hacienda Cusín

9km southeast of Otavalo, on the edge of San Pablo del Lago t 06/2918013, w http://www.haciendacusin.com. Beautiful, early seventeenth-century hacienda, set amid peaceful gardens with little cobbled courtyards connected together and bursting with flowers. Rooms feature en-suite baths and striking views of the estate and its environs, and some have fireplaces and beamed ceilings. The complex includes a converted monastery, garden cottage, library, games room and an excellent restaurant. Many activities offered, including horseriding. Reservations required. over $121

Hacienda Pinsaquí

Panamericana Norte, Km5 t 06/2946116, w http://www.haciendapinsaqui.com. Historic hacienda built in 1790, which hosted Simón Bolívar and signatories of the 1863 Treaty of Pinsaquí between Colombia and Ecuador. Stately drawing and dining rooms with huge fireplaces, courtyards with trickling fountains, and luxurious but simple rooms pervaded by the faint aroma of furniture polish and wood-smoke evoke a bygone age. Equine-related trappings and trophies abound, particularly in the snug bar, hung with stirrups and show-jumping memorabilia. All rooms cost the same, though some are far larger than others, and breakfast is included. Guided horse rides $30 for three hours. over $121

Hacienda Zuleta

12km east of Lago de San Pablo t 02/2662182, w http://www.zuleta.com. A working dairy farm and hacienda dating from 1690 and former home of Ecuadorian president Galo Plaza Lasso, set in bucolic countryside near the village of Zuleta, famed for its embroidery. Nine comfortable guestrooms with garden views accommodate visitors, who are treated as guests of the family. The farm produces delicious organic fruit, vegetables, trout and dairy products, and activities include horseriding (multi-day programmes available), embroidery trips and visits to condor repopulation projects. Reservations and minimum two-night stay required. over $121

Las Palmeras Inn

Just south of Quichinche t 06/2922607, w http://www.laspalmerasinn.com. A 150-year-old hacienda in a countryside setting with great views of Cotacachi and Imbabura, offering accommodation in garden cottages with fireplaces, family suites, rooms within the main house, and dorm beds ($15) including breakfast. Plenty of activities are offered and the main lodge includes a games room, restaurant, two lounges, internet café and reference library. $51–80

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